/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

From String to Song to Symphony – A Cadence of Excellence

Chitraveena N. Ravikiran – Parvathi Ramanavami 1988

Reflections by R. Sachi

We bring to rasikas worldwide a wonderful concert of Chitravina (earlier name gotuvadyam) by prodigy N. Ravikiran, held at Parvathi in 1988.

Born in Mysore in 1967, the phenomenon called N. Ravikiran made an impact on the Carnatic scene as early as in 1969. He astonished the greatest musicians with his ability to recognise a vast array of ragas and talas when other children would be lisping baby words. M.S. Subbulakshmi, T.R. Mahalingam, Mysore Doreswamy Iyengar, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and others, expressed astonishment and delight at this phenomenon called N. Ravikiran. After training intensely under his father, Chitravina Narasimhan, Ravikiran debuted as a vocalist in 1972, at a record-setting age of five in Coimbatore and presented concerts in prominent venues. He won a scholarship from the Madras Music Academy at that young age.

At the age of 10, he switched over to the 21-stringed chitravina (earlier called gotuvadyam) and gave his maiden chitravina concert at age 11. He established himself as a frontline Indian string instrumentalist within the next 3 years with recitals in major venues and festivals. He won an exemption to perform professional concerts for Indian Radio and Television (Doordarshan) at age 12 and was invited to represent his country in Festivals of India all over the world. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer presented the gotuvadyam that had been played by his guru Vid. Sakharama Rao, to Ravikiran.

From 1986–96, Ravikiran underwent training under the celebrated vocalist T.Brinda, an acknowledged musicians' musician, renowned for her microscopic nuances, authentic repertoire and uncompromising values. His own approach to ragas, songs, and especially javalis and padams, reflects this.

The incredible saga of Ravikiran’s musical journey is well narrated over the Internet and well documented at ravikiranmusic.com. Today, N. Ravikiran is one of the most highly accomplished and respected musicians around the world, performing, teaching, composing and conducting music concerts of several formats and genres round the year around the globe. He plays the chitravina as well as gives full-fledged vocal concerts.

Ravikiran is making fundamental contributions towards popularising Oothukadu Venkata Kavi’s compositions. He is helping musicians to hone their skills in advancing both lakshana and lakshya of their Carnatic competencies through conducting many lec-dems, and Internet teaching sessions. Many of his students have been well recognised.

Ravikiran's significant contribution to world music is 'Melharmony', a new approach to compositions and aesthetics that he initiated in the year 2000 at the Millennium Festival in UK. The impact of this has been reflected in Melharmonic concerts, collaborations, academic papers and recognitions. Melharmony harnesses melodic concepts of the East and harmonic concepts of the West. His 72-raga melakarta melharmony presentation and his composing and performing music for a dance ballet performed by Pandit Birju Maharaj are among many recent achievements.

The present concert is a good example of how balanced, sparkling and fulfilling Ravikiran’s music has always been. The range of ragas and compositions leaves the listener highly satisfied. As Ravikiran enters the “golden age” in a Carnatic musician’s career, we wish the maestro all success and happiness in his multifaceted endeavours.


N. Ravikiran ------------------- Chitravina (Gotuvadyam)
T.G.Tyagarajan ----------------Violin
T.A.S Mani ----------------------Mridangam
Bangalore Venkataram ------- Ghatam (Ramanavami Concert held on 2-4-1988 at “Parvathi")

Song List

01 Raghunayaka-Hamsadhvani- Thyagaraja *** 02 Simhendramadhyama Raga *** 03 Natajana paripalaka-K.V. Srinivasa Iyengar *** 04 Manavinala-Nalinakanti- Thyagaraja *** 05 Todi Raga *** 06 Emi Jesite – Todi- Thyagaraja *** 07 Sudhamayee – Amrutavarshini- H Muthiah Bhagavatar *** 08 Kamboji Raga *** 09 Tana in Ghana Ragamalika *** 10 Pallavi –Parimala Rangapathe *** 11 Yare Rangana –Hindola- Purandara Dasa *** 12. Vagaladi Bodhanalaku-Behag Javali – Tirupathi Narayanaswamy *** 13 Mangalam ***

Thursday, May 14, 2015

In Memoriam: Jim Gaines

[ Courtesy: NJ.com ]
[ NJ Advance Media-AP/Santos Chaparro ]

Towards the start of our blog in an acknowledgement section, our readers may have noticed a name mentioned but only in brief.

It had to be in brief, because the large and beautiful personality of Jim Gaines would not accept it any other way. He was, tellingly, the most modest person in whatever he did.

On Tuesday May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train bound for New York from Washington derailed close to Philadelphia in arguably one of the most horrific accidents of our times. An ever responsible and ebullient Jim, had even then text-ed home to his wife Jacqueline that he would be there "in just about half an hour". But, fate, just snatched him away in a few minutes in perhaps one of the cruelest of fashions.

To this writer and the many who knew him in the communities of the Princeton suburbs, and to his many colleagues at work, it was hard not be held captive by Jim's many-a-sided 'goodness'. His ever eager spirit was always involved in helping some deserving institution or in charity or in the cause of somebody. He was just the "go to" guy, the one that would accommodate you in any situation at any hour when you called on him.

It was in such a situation, in a call for help to Jim that this 'Parvathi' blog started in earnest.

This writer had always felt a pang on the story of a unique home in India that had a large part of music entwined with scores of performers, and in the large lay of a country, it's classic traditions and culture. Ever creative himself, such stories had a unique appeal for Jim.

Ever the faithful father, in bundling his two dear children in a car wherever he went, and always the technical one in brandishing his lap top, he would show up for sittings, faithfully, sacrificing his own weekends to be in a coffee shop, to be the teacher, the creative persona, the designer.

The memory of those beautiful mornings haunt this writer even as he recalls the teacher in Jim "You know, just with a wee bit of help, Jacqueline has mastered her web page in providing her own creative expressions. This is no rocket science and you too can do it. I'll teach you how, but you alone must roll up your sleeves and do it!".

As we roll up each posting in the future, we will have cause to recall Jim's words each time and with a lump. He has left his indelible presence in our hearts and minds.

We only wish he had not left us this way, with only a philosophy to comfort us.

Jim Gaines, less than fifty years old, was professionally a Manager in Video technology with the Associated Press. Gifted techically, he was part of a team that won the AP Chairman's Prize in 2006 for developing the agency's Online Video Network.

He leaves behind wife Jacqueline and two lovely children 16-year-old son Oliver and 11-year-old daughter Anushka.

We can only but pray that they may all be comforted in some manner.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Scriptures and Devotion

Bombay Sisters – Parvathi Ramanavami Concert, 1975

Appreciations from R. Sachi

We bring the rasikas worldwide this time excerpts from a 40 year-old recording of the concert by Bombay Sisters. Vidushis C. Saroja and C. Lalitha were born in Kerala and grew up in Bombay. After their initial musical training they won scholarships to study under the doyens at the Central College of Carnatic Music, Adyar, Chennai. They have been hailed as pure classicists bringing credit to their gurus Musiri Subramanya Iyer and T.K. Govinda Rao. The Bombay Sisters have had a steady run of popularity for nearly 50 years and were conferred the coveted Sangitha Kalanidhi title by the Madras Music Academy in 2010.

In this concert, we find some fine renditions of famous krithis like Evari Mata and Innu Daya Barade. These songs unburden the longing of the devotee for divine grace. The bhakti movement in India has given rise to an extraordinary breadth and depth of devotional outpouring, fully harnessed in the lyrics of Carnatic music. To name a few of the originators of these lyrics: Andal, Annamacharya, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Chaitanya, Meera, Kabir, Tulsidas, Surdas, Purandara Dasa and others of that tradition, Thyagaraja, Shyama Shastri, Swati Tirunal, Papanasam Sivan, Vasudevachar…

“Come to me, please reveal yourself, save me, help me cross the ocean of this wretched existence”: these sentiments and their variations come again and again in impassioned entreaties to the Lord. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Uddhava, a great intellectual, spiritual aspirant, and associate of Krishna, is sent to Gokula to meet Krishna’s family and the gopis. There he encounters the real bhakti of the gopis for Krishna. He is simply swept away. He says to them (quote from Srimad Bhagavatam, The Wisdom of God by Swami Prabhavananda): “How Blessed are you to have surrendered yourselves completely and whole-heartedly to Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the God of Love. Love and devotion grow after one has practiced many austerities, undergone many spiritual disciplines, and meditation. But fortunate indeed are you who were born with all-consuming love and devotion, and have renounced everything for the love of your dear Krishna. O happy ones, who enjoy the bliss of divine love, I am blessed and purified by coming into your presence.”

The song Evari Mata by Thyagaraja is famous and pours out the rasa of Kambhoji incomparably. No wonder it is often taken up in concerts for elaborate treatment. To show the emotive content of the lyrics, we reproduce below the text and translation of the song from The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja:

Come let us enjoy this fine concert by Bombay Sisters!:

Concert Details

Bombay Sisters (Saroja and Lalitha) --------- Vocal
Master Nagaraj (Now Mysore Nagaraj) ---- Violin
P.G.Lakshminarayan ------- Mridangam
M.A.Krishnamurthy --------- Ghatam
on 27-4-1975 at 'Parvathi'.

Excerpts List

01. Ganamurthe- Ganamurthi- Thyagaraja *** 02.Rama Rama –Simhendramadhyama- Swathi Thirunal *** 03. Ramachandram Bhavayami –Vasantha- Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 04. Kambhoji Raga- Evarimata-Thyagaraja *** 05. Innu daya baarade-Kalyana Vasantha- Purandara Dasa *** 06. Shloka - Ab mein naachun-Yaman Kalyani- Surdas *** 07. Tillana-Jinjhuti- Veena Sheshanna